Sector will get an enhanced role in public service delivery, says Queen's Speech

New Lib-Con coalition will give greater scope to social enterprises, charities and cooperatives

Measures to give a bigger role to social enterprise, charities and cooperatives in the running of public services will be introduced by the autumn, the coalition government has promised in today's Queen's Speech.

Announcing the Conservative-Liberal government's first legislative programme, the Queen said the "role of social enterprises, charities and cooperatives in our public services will be enhanced".

In supplementary information, Number 10 said that radical reform of public services was needed and third sector organisations were one means by which to improve outcomes and reduce the national debt.

Primary legislation is not expected, but Number 10 said that public services markets would, in appropriate areas, be opened up to allow third sector organisations to bid to run public services.

"Barriers to involvement will be identified and measures will be implemented," the statement from Number 10 said.

The government also pledged to give public sector workers the right to form employee-owned cooperatives and bid to run the services they deliver.

The government said early measures, which are not yet specified, would be in place by the autumn.

Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO, said: "The government has recognised that the voluntary and community sector must play an important role in realising our shared vision of the good society. But our organisations will need to receive the right support and resources if they are to play their full role in civil society and to deliver high-quality, responsive public services."

Stephen Bubb, head of chief executives body Acevo, said there were clearly big opportunities for third sector organisations in education, welfare to work, health and reducing re-offending. "The crucial question now is how we marry cuts to the government's ambitious plans for public service reform and, more broadly, big society," he said.

"We believe that, with genuine partnership, it can be done."

Hannah Terrey, head of policy and public affairs at the Charities Aid Foundation, said social enterprises, charities and cooperatives "have a wealth of experience of delivering vital services to the most vulnerable".

She added: "We look forward to seeing the detail and hope that these measures will take forward the Conservative commitment to making it easier for charitable organisations to operate and work with the state."

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